Home Archives 2014 March

Monthly Archives: March 2014

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    Director Janaki Vishwanathan on her latest, Yeh Hai Bakrapur, with a four-legged protagonist named Shahrukh

    Janaki Vishwanathana��s next film, Yeh Hai Bakrapur, has a goat as its protagonist. Yes, you read that right. Vishwanathan, who baggedA� two National Awards for her 2001 debut, Kutty, also has two Tamil filmsA� (Kanavu Mei Pada Vaendum, 2004, and Om Obama, 2011) and several documentaries to her credit. With Yeh Hai Bakrapur, her first Bollywood movie, the former journalist insists on being true to her style of filmmakinga��which highlights social issues.More from her:

    Yeh Hai Bakrapur is a socio-political satire.
    The goat is the superstar, along with a little boy, a barber and the boya��s family. The movie was shot on a mountain range between Maharashtra and Karnataka. It is a Hindi film and though I cannot read and write Hindi very well, I can speak it well. I have a Tamil film coming up, which will also release this year.

    I would like to try a thriller, with action, drama and comedya��but in my style.
    I have tried a serious film and a light-hearted film (Yeh Hai Bakrapur). Next up, a romantic movie.

    I divide cinema into formula and non-formula.
    All movies are commercial because people invest money to get the audience to watch it. Even if I take up a topic thata��s been attempted earlier, Ia��d do it differently. I think Yeh Hai Bakrapur is mainstream.

    Every movie addresses an issue.
    Every story has something to do with your surroundings or personal experience. It is up to a director whether he wants to dilute the subject or stay focussed. As a director, I like to retain my focus so the audience takes away something. I like movies like Peepli Live and Welcome to Sajjanpur.

    Film festivals are when your peers appreciate you and a�?box officea�� is when the audience enjoys your movies.
    For me, I want appreciation from both.

    Ia��d like to work with Irrfan Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. I also admire Tabu a lot.

    I love filmmakers like Alfonso Cuaron, Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino. I think they make movies that are a combination of style and philosophy.A� I enjoyed the work of Satyajit Ray.

    Yeh Hai Bakrapur is scheduled to release on April 25.

    a�� Mrinalini Sundar

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      Documentary filmmaker, Gautam Singh, on why some of the countrya��s best films are made outside Bollywood

      DOHA-based Indian filmmaker, Gautam Singh, is ready with Indian Hospital Revisiteda��a sequel to Indian Hospital, a six-episode series he made for Al Jazeera in 2011. The original had Singh spending four months at the Narayana Health hospital in Bangalore, in an attempt to bring out the complexities of modern India. He studied the lives of its patients and medical staff. a�?I wanted to tell the story of an India that belongs to each and every one of its 1.2 billion citizens. We chose Narayana Health because it is one of those Indian stories that brings the countrya��s differences together in one place. It is a microcosm and, for me, the hospital became not only my film set, but also a character in itself,a�? says Singh.

      News reel
      Singh is planning a documentary film on Indiaa��s open nuclear mines and is researching the a�?Baulsa�� of Bengal. But he is not ready to enter Bollywood. a�?I might do feature films in the future, but they will be very close to reality, which might not be a perfect fit for Bollywood,a�? he says, having previously made two documentaries, Daughters of the Brothel and My Sister Laxmi, which follows a 12-year-old homeless boy in Bangalore.

      Born in Jharkand, Singh grew up in an environement where watching films was frowned upon. a�?I had to travel 2,000 kms to Mumbai to learn filmmaking,a�? concludes the director who spends at least a month every year in India.

      Indian Hospital Revisited will be telecasted on March 20, at 8 pm. Details: aljazeera.com/indianhospital

      -Mrinalini Sundar

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        Ashvini Yardi talks about her famous business partner, Fugli and where regional cinema is headed

        After working in television for 20 years, it takes guts to leave a highly-paid job as a channel head and venture into film production. But Ashvini Yardi seems to have lots of it, along with passion and drive. Following an idea that germinated on the sets of Khatron Ke Khiladi in 2011, Yardi teamed up with actor Akshay Kumar to start Grazing Goat Pictures. The duoa��s first release, Oh My God!, was a box office success. Now, besides Bollywood, the company is also focussing on creative films and regional cinema.
        Yardi shares her challenges, inspiration and what makes a�?Akkia�� and her a team:

        Tell us about your upcoming movie, Fugli.
        Directed by Kabir Sadanand, Fugli is about four friends who, because of an a�?incidenta��, get sucked into a world of corruption and politics. The central characters are played by fresh faces: Anil Kapoora��s nephew Mohit Marwah, Olympic medal-winning boxer Vijender Singh, Sayed Jafferya��s grandniece Kiara Advani and Slumdog Millionaire actor Arfi Lamba.

        What is your companya��s business strategy?
        We want to make Grazing Goat Pictures a global player. We not only want to produce regional cinema and world cinema, but are also encouraging our creative team to come up with TV formats and events. Furthermore, we have launched a digital arm. Its first offering is a YouTube channel, FOMO (Fashion on My Own), which caters to both Hindi and English audiences.

        How did you survive the transition from TV to movies?
        I took a big risk when I quit Colors for the challenge of film production. I have always had the drive to create and promote content with great public appeal. Akshay Kumar was also very keen about this synergy.

        How is Akshay to work with?
        Akshay and I have been working together for more than five yearsa��on Fear Factor and various award shows. We relate to each other because we have similar working styles. But the main factor that brought us together was the love for content-driven subjects and our efforts to give regional cinema a platform. I think we complement each othera��he has A�fabulous business sense and I have the knowledge of scripts and content.

        Why regional cinema?
        Regional cinema is growing by leaps and bounds. Wea��ve already released a couple of regional filmsa��72 Miles Ek Pravas (Marathi) and Bhaji in Problem (Punjabi)a��and have announced our next, a film called Anntar (Marathi) that is being filmed in London. In my opinion, regional films are simple yet impactful because they arena��t flashy or trashy. Also, the audience can relate to the performances and the cinematography.

        What are the challenges you face as a producer?
        The biggest challenge, and the biggest drive, is the need to constantly re-invent. People get bored easily.

        The genres you prefer?
        Cinema, I believe, is a mode of escapism. Ita��s a prerequisite of the industry that films with various themes and genres be made.

        Who is your inspiration?
        Oprah Winfrey. I like the fact that she has come up in life with just hard work and a lot of dedication. I also love her strong connection with people and the fact that she is so genuine.

        Fulgi is scheduled to release in the second half of the year.

        -Mrinalini Sundar

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        Get a slice of Rachel Allena��s everyday life, her favourite ingredients and an indulgence she holds close to her heart

        Herea��s a chance observe celebrated chef Rachel Allena��s life in Ireland a�� right from dealing with her suppliers at work to reactions to her cooking from friends and family. The new show, Rachel Allena��s Easy Meals, is being telecast for the first time in India, on TLC. Renowned for her baking, the Irish TV chef takes us through easy, fuss-free cooking that covers everything from easy bakes and lazy-SundayA�mornings to cooking for a crowd. Some of Allena��s signature dishes have five ingredients or less and can be made in one pot. Hassle-free cooking for her means putting a delicious meal together even when the pantry is nearly empty.

        The cookbook author tells us about must-have ingredients and her indulgences:

        What inspired you to take up cooking?
        Ia��ve always loved cooking. ButA� only realised it when I lost my mother. I was very young and spent my first five days making biscuits and cakes. And then I thought of doing a little bit more.

        Whata��s next for Rachel Allen?
        Ita��s more of travelling and writing for me. I also wonder when I will retire.

        What ingredients are we likely to find in your kitchen?
        Cumin seeds and green cardamom pods and of course garlic.A�I prefer to buy spices fresh. And I just love butter; wea��veA� got really good butter in Ireland.

        One indulgence you allow yourself?
        My moma��s breast chicken. She would make the bread crumbs stuffing with the chicken and shea��d cook them with a little bit of lemon. It always reminds me of how much I used to love eating that.

        Easy Meals by Rachel Allen is on TLC, Monday to Friday at 8 pm.

        A�-Sumitra Nair

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        David Roccoa��s Dolce India sees the celebrity chef adding a touch of Italy to our local cuisine

        Hea��s experimental, self-taught and hates liver. The Canadian-born Italian has donned the role of author, chef and even his kidsa�� soccer team coacha��but you would know him better as the host of David Roccoa��s Dolce Vita, whereA� he explores the Italian way of life and food. After about 10 weeks of filming in India (Mumbai, Jaipur, Chennai and New Delhi), his upcoming series, David Roccoa��s Dolce India, is just days away from being aired on Fox Traveller, and Rocco says that he spent countless hours cooking. a�?When I wasna��t cooking, I was eating. Ita��s a tough life, but someonea��s gotta do it,a�? he begins, adding that all his research was done post the filming of each episode. a�?I like going in with an open mind, open heart and just exploring… trying the different spices and ingredients first hand instead of just reading about them.a�?

        Best of both
        On the show, Rocco explores Indian food, coming up with an exciting fusion of Italian and Indian recipes along the way. a�?In Jaipur, I made mutton Bolognese. We started with Indian style minced mutton, cooked with garam masala and spices, and then added extra tomato sauce and served it over pasta,a�? says the celebrity chef who has fallen in love with mustard oil. a�?Ita��s now my second favourite oil! Ia��m still using it now, at home, for some of my dishes,a�? says Rocco, who enjoyed the chutneys and the fish markets that Chennai had to offer. a�?It was an amazing experience. Being there at 5 am and seeing all the fish come in. Except, I didna��t realise I was seasick until it was too late. I made the chutneys and dosas my morning ritual.a�?

        Al dente, please
        After having tried the likes of lamb eyeballs in Jordan, one would think that Rocco would have a stomach of steel, but he admits to being shaken at what he saw in a slaughter house. a�?I love goat, but watching one slaughtered before we cooked it gave me a lot to think about,a�? says Rocco. And as far as fusing two cuisines goes, he admits, a�?In reality, the cuisines are so similar that it was hard to go wrong when combining them. The biggest difference is that Italians like their rice and pasta al dente.a�?

        Premiers on March 20 on Fox Traveller, and airs on Thursday and Friday at 9.30 pm

        -Ryan Peppin

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          SPI Cinemasa�� VP, Richard Musa, talks about luxe movie-watching experiences, traffic and spice

          come April, and Richard Musa will be celebrating a year at SPI Cinemas as their executive VP operations, and a year in Chennai. In hospitality for 30 years, Cheshire-born Musa has travelled the world and calls his stint at Yemen a�?a surreal experience,a�? among all the launches of star properties he has overseen. He opened the Al Qasr in Yemen, back in 2010, and if you brush up on your history, youa��ll know why he chose to leave as soon as he could. a�?I was surrounded by Al-Qaeda and Somali pirates,a�? he exclaims, as he tells us about terror attacks and armed security personnel on watch at the hotel. a�?Youa��re usually provided with a laptop on the job, but there, my head of security gave me a taser.a�?

          Matinee happy
          Musaa��s next move was to Pune, where, after a brief stint, he joined the SPI group and switched base to Chennai. a�?This is a boutique cinema group,a�? he says with some pride, pointing out why the business of hospitality plays a role here. a�?We deal with a wide spectrum of public and provide a five-star product at a bargain price,a�? he shares, adding that a similar movie experience in the UK would cost at least GBP10. Speaking of premium experiences, he chooses not to comment on when Luxe (the uber-luxury theatre by the group) is scheduled to open, but hints that the group plans to expand to more cities. Clearly amused by the movie watching experience here, Musa shares, a�?This is the only place in the world where you can shout and clap at the screen. The first time I heard it, I thought there was a riot going on in there,a�? he laughs.

          Nellore calling
          While he misses the stand-alone bars in Pune, Musa is enjoying his culinary experiences in Chennai. He lights up with an a�?I like going out,a�? before listing some of his favourite restaurants in town. Not surprisingly, Musa also has a collection of about 500 cookbooks back home. a�?I love to try different cuisines,a�? he says, going on to share, a�?I had a kara dosa in Nellore with a chilli paste. It nearly blew my head off!a�? But that has not stopped him from being part of all the tasting sessions at Spice Kitchen, the restaurant in the groups theatre in Nellore. He finds it puzzling when people a�?reach for the pepper and chilli flakes, without even tasting whata��s served.a�? But though he is adventurous with food, he is certain he will not touch a steering wheel in Chennai. a�?I felt safer in Yemen than in the traffic here,a�? he concludes on a light note.

          -Ryan Peppin

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            Starting this week, a festival at The Savera gets famous and offbeat musicians to perform

            Ten days of music. Thata��s what Bay 146 at the Savera Hotel is promising Chennai this month. With a different act every Wednesday and Friday, and names as big as Sanjeev Thomas and Sunitha Sarathy a�� it looks like weeknights at this restobar are going to be seeing a full house. Food and beverage manager Sampath Kumar, whoa��s been planning The Mainstage for over a month now, says, a�?In the past wea��ve had stand up comedy nights, open mic music sessions and international bands perform at our space.a�? However, he adds, a�?An entire month of music with musical acts flying in pan-India is a first for us.a�?

            So here is the rest of the line up: Thermal and a Quarter, Live Banned, Allegro Fudge, Franks got the Funk, Seven, Skrat and the F16s. And if youa��re not familiar with the names, not to worry a�� youa��re guaranteed to know the music. Think popular covers of Daft Punk, Michael Jackson and John Mayer, but with a personalised twist. Says piano man Jason Zachariah from Bengalurua��s Allegro Fudge, a�?We do a really dark, slow ballad version of Billie Jean (MJ) and definitely watch out for our rendition of Superstition (Stevie Wonder).a�?
            We hear therea��s going to be a liberal dose of original compositions as well. Not to mention some crazy rock antics on stage. a�?Oh my pants fell down on stage once,a�? smiles Ameeth Thomas, frontman of Junkyard Groove. He laughs, a�?So these days I always plan which boxers Ia��m going to wear before I get on stage!a�?

            Till April 11, from 9 pm onwards. Details: 28114700, 9710947363

            -Sonali Shenoy

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              Double whammy
              Actor-turned-director Kaushik is exciteda��his directorial debut, Adiyum Andamum, releases today and his second venture, Pani Vizhum Nilavu, hits theaters next Friday. a�?Ia��m overwhelmed that my films are having back-to-back releases,a�? he says, explaining that his first film is a psychological thriller and the second, a romantic saga. A popular TV actor, Kaushik earlier played the lead in the film, Thoovaanam.

              Childa��s play
              Director Ashokan, who apprenticed with Murugadoss, is busy with the shoot of Kamban Kazhagama��a film about a 10-year-old boy who changes the lives of five youngsters. Pasanga Kishore, the child artiste who gave sterling performances in Pasanga and Goli Soda, plays the lead.

              Dreamcatcher
              Meanwhile, Ajaya��the hero and co-producer of Adiyum Andamuma��is keeping his fingers crossed. The actor, who has a couple of Hindi and Tamil films under his belt, is best known for his role of Adhi in the TV serial Kolangal. a�?When Kaushik narrated the plot to me, it instantly struck a chord. Ita��s turned out beyond our imagination,a�? he says. Perhaps this stint on the big screen will establish him as a star.

              -Malini Mannath

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                Werner Sasse uses a giant brush to explore the journey from primordial darkness to enlightenment

                Close on the heels of yesterdaya��s meditative performance, Four Walls, by choreographer, dancer, vocalist and writer Sincha Hong, comes Inko Centrea��s Darkness to Lighta��a unique calligraphic presentation by Werner Sasse, her husband. At Lalit Kala Akademi today, the event is what Sasse prefers to call a a�?performancea��, as he uses a large brush and Korean hanji paper (made from the inner bark of the mulberry tree), to symbolically travel from primordial darkness to proverbial light. a�?The performance will be in eight panels that will see a man meditating and a moon.

                Though my paintings are abstract, it always has the element of nature in it,a�? begins the artist from Germany. a�?Calligraphy is very common in Korea. I saw a lot of people using the small brush and then I met a people who do this art on the roads, and learnt it from them.a�? Sasse says his work is a dialogue between his brush, his mind and the paper. a�?I have an image in my mind and then I start drawing it.

                I generally start with landscape, like mountains,trees or a river,a�? says the 73-year-old, who has taken his art to different parts of Korea, Germany and India. But his Darkness to Light is a series that he created two years ago in Berlin, as part of a festival. a�?It begins with a black panel symbolising the void before creation from which, in a gradual process of materialising,
                the world starts to appear, only to disappear into a blaze of light, a blank white panel, that proverbial state of enlightenment,a�? says the artist, an acclaimed scholar of Korean art, history, language and culture.

                At Lalit Kala Akademi, today, from 5 pm onwards. Details: 28291692

                -Mrinalini Sundar

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                  Anjali Ponni Rajkumar talks about her personalised paintings and family portraits

                  ItA� begins with a saliva sample. Anjali Ponni Rajkumar dons a pair of gloves and starts making art with the DNA samples given to her. a�?We first get a banding pattern and then we work on the art, with a backdrop created with oil paints. The DNA is added digitally. This is then finished on canvas to the size that the client wants,a�? explains Rajkumar, who also uses acrylics and charcoal. Only a few months old, her enterprise, Tag C, offers art with footprints, thumbprints, lipstick marks etc.

                  What does Tag C mean? a�?Ita��s about a�?tagging youa��. TAG and C also stand for Thymine, Adenine, Guanine and Cytosine, which are the nucleotides that make up your DNA,a�? explain the artist, who also has another line of paintings, under the name Aswatha, made from oil, charcoal and digital. For these, she adds a spiritual or scientific angle to her work.A� a�?My last series, Akarma, was showcased at Gallery Vedaa��s space on OMR, a collaborative effort with Shilpa Architects. The Akarma series is about your journey through life, without attachment. A series that I worked on simultaneously and continue to do so is Mind, about human inventions that set homo-sapiens apart and give them a false sense of security as the dominant species,a�? says Rajkumar, 35.

                  Project unusual
                  As for the DNA experiment, it is seeing some takers here, but not as many as abroad, where this format was introduced way back in 2005. In fact, artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg recentlyA� used DNA she found strewn around New York City a�� from cigarette butts to strands of hair a�� to create crude 3-D models of their appearances.

                  Most of Rajkumara��s customised paintings are for families and children. a�?a�?They give me specifications like a�?it is for an empty white walla��, or to add a�?bluea��, etc. They also give me DNA samples of the family, so I make one large painting,a��a�� she adds. Orders can also be placed on her Facebook page. With a varied background, Rajkumar has a bachelors in business and art from Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, which is where she learned to make DNA art, and a masters in biotechnology. She went on to work at the neurology department at the hospital at University of Pennsylvania. When not at her studio, she does art therapy for patients and volunteers at schools.

                  It takes 10 days for a painting priced from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 20,000. Size of the paintings vary from 20×20 inches to 40×40 inches. Details:A�facebook.com/DNAtagc

                  -Mrinalini Sundar

                   

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